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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brianna Keilar  CNN  December 13, 2016 9:00am-10:01am PST

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hi there, and welcome to "cnn newsroom." thank you so much for joining me. i'm brianna keilar. the search is over for america's next diplomat. the drama is just getting started. >> we just couldn't be more grateful someone of rex tillerson's proven leadership and accomplishment has been willing to step forward and serve our nation as our next secretary of state. >> so that's vp-elect mike pence sings the praises of this man, exxon mobile ceo rex tillerson emerged as a serious contender for the state department job only in the past couple of weeks. the thing i like best about rex tillerson, tweets soon to be president trump, he has all sorts of experience with internation international, and rick perry heading the department of energy. and leave it to phil mattingly
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to unpack the significance of that and cnn global affairs elise labott joins us with much more on tillerson being the secretary of state pick. to you first, phil. tell us about this perry pick for energy. >> reporter: what i'm hearing repeatedly from trump advisers, they point to his time at governor of texas. longest serving governor of texas before he left that post and in that role basically overseeing the 11th largest economy in the world if it were a sovereign state. management experience is something i'm hearing over and over again and his experience dealing with energy issues in that state. on the ground floor for the u.s. energy renaissance as it was happening during his term there's. those are all key issues that the president-elect liked about rick perry. now, there's also history here. obviously, nome did he serve as governor but also ran for president twice including in 2012, when he had this interesting debate moment. take a listen. >> and i will tell you, it's three agencies of government
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when i get there that are gone. commerce, education and the -- what's the third one there? let's see -- the third agency of government i would do away with the education -- the -- commerce -- and, let's see -- i can't -- the third one. i can't. sorry. oops. >> so the third agency was the energy department, which he forget at that moment, but also an agency he at one point running for president pledged to eliminate. he will now be tanked should the senate confirm him running that very agency. the energy department isn't just about energy development or fracking. it is also and primarily about overseeing the u.s. nuclear arsen arsenal, proliferation and security. a lot of questions rick perry has to answer not just about energy specific issues as he goes through this confirmation process. >> it is a huge, important job, but the irony is just --
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unbelievable. elise, talk about rex tillerson, because this is a man who knows russia. he also knows middle east but knows russia in the capacity of promoting exxon's interests, and those are very different than america's interests. most significantly on sanctions. right? >> well, that's right, and rex tillerson has said, you know, as the chairman of exxon/mobil they didn't believe in sanctions, not just against russia in particular, but other countries, because they didn't think they were really effective, and in order for them to be really effective, they would have to, you know, all of the countries involved, would have to be implemented. i think it certainly had to do with his concerns about doing business in russia, and the question is, would he be advising donald trump to, you know, lift those sanctions if secretary of state? >> and you have two former secretaries of state including one former secretary of defense lobbying hard for tillerson to get the job.
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there's a caveat? >> former secretary of state condoleezza rice and former defense secretary bob gates have done business and former secretary of state jim baker, all done business with exxon/mobil, advised under tillerson's leadership exxon/mobil. i want to read a little statement from secretary of state rice saying, rex tillerson is an excellent choice for secretary of state. he will bring to the post remarkable and broad international experience, a deep understanding of the global economy, and a belief of america's special role in the world. now, although they have done business with rex tillerson, obviously, they're doing business with exxon, they have seen him in action and do think that rex tillerson would be a good negotiator, a good diplomat on behalf of the world, on behalf of the u.s. he does have a very strategic view and vision of the world having done business in so many countries, and i have to say, brianna, a lot of diplomats i've talked to at the state department feel the same way. they are a little wary about
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those russia ties. also some of the work he did in kur kyrgyzstan and possibly could have more successes. they're willing, i think, to give him a real open mind. >> and, phil, proving you just never know what is going to happen there at trump tower behind you, tell us about this photo op you saw there this morning. >> reporter: yeah, brianna, rank in tiers who comes in and out of that building behind me. certainly a lot of high-profile, powerful, important people that have gone through there and also people like the naked cowboy, somehow seemed to get into the lobby every single day. this meeting today. take a listen. >> just friends. just friends, and -- he's a good man. doing well. long time. we've been friends for a long time. life -- we discussed that. >> i just want to take a picture right now.
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>> reporter: deep conversations about life. if going through the rank and tiers i don't think this is on the higher tier level. certainly give kanye west more credit than the naked cowboy. not the lowest. in terms of things that matter in the president-elect's day and heading towards inauguration, i don't think this ranks very high up there, however, our colleague noah gray says kanye west requested the meeting, given 15 minutes and they met. >> 15 minutes? a lot of time, actually, in the scheme of things. phil mattingly, elise labott, thanks to you both. the drama i mentioned comes when rex tillerson pulls up a chair in the senate foreign relations committee. cnn manu raju is following the confirmation pushback coming even from some republicans. getting some of this blowback from the gop, manu? >> reporter: right. right now four republican senators expressed some level of concern about mr. tillerson's
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views on russia in particular. so when his nomination moves forward, he's going have to alleviate those concerns. as we know, brianna, there is not much room for error, because there are 52 republicans who will hold seats in the senate next year and just a three defect on the floor of the senate. enough to stall the nomination and one republican on the senate foreign relations committee defects, that's probably enough to stall the nomination as well. and one republican expressed concern who sits on the foreign relations committee. that is florida senator marco rubio. earlier today issuing this statement saying that while rex tillerson is a respected businessman, i have serious concerns about his nomination. the next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, free of potential conflicts of interests and has a clear sense of america's interests, and will be a forceful advocate of america's foreign policy goals. now, brianna, that means if rubio were to side with the
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united democratic front, that would mean that more democrats would vote against the nomination and probably go down 10-9. there are procedures for republicans to still move that nomination to the floor, even if it does get voted down in committee, although it's very rare and would be optically look very, very bad. so there is a lot of work that the republicans need to do to sell his nomination and try to convince some democrats, also, to flip. some democrats also non-committal at this point, but the democratic leadership including chuck schumer, issues a statement criticizing some of mr. tillerson's views on rushed sanctions on russia, something else, tim kaine, former vp nominee raises and sits on that all-important foreign relations committee. watch for this sales job to really intensify in the coming weeks. it seems to have worked in one case, jeff flake that trump critic, sits on the committee, republican senator in arizona seems to be okay with the nomination because of the
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support from people like condoleezza rice. brianna? >> manu raju, thank you for that report. now to my panel on this. a.b. stoddard, mike visor from "the boston globe" and josh rogin from the "washington post" also a cnn political analyst. there is no "washington globe," combining two places where you work. okay. what is the calculus here? donald trump is, this is where he's going to see this fight, and -- i guess he thinks he's going to win, but why is it worth it for him? >> right. wonder hoog would be the nominee the democrats would try to fight? now we know. rex tillerson. donald trump simply went through all processes, met with everybody, decided he liked this guy and decided it was worth it to take on this fight. good reason to think he's going to win. right? looking at maybe three, four, five republicans who might vote no. none of them actually said they'll vote no. what they'll do, wait and see if rex tillerson can reassure him as secretary of state he would
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defend american interests not exxon interests. if he can say and do the right things between now and then, probably get through even though most democrats will oppose him. >> matt, to be clear, this is someone, he has a lot of knowledge. he knows russia. he knows the middle east, but he's going to have to take off one hat that he's been wearing now for decades, working for exxon, and going to have to put on another one. basically use his knowledge, perhaps for a very different reason. right? >> those will be at the forefront of those questions that lindsay graham and john mccain and others are forecasting. you know, the sanctions, get to the core of that. you know? we have sanctions against russia that impact exxon. rex tillerson, former chief executive of exxon then having a secretary of state rule raises questions how he looks at those sanctions. as secretary of state. and i do think, you know, donald trump is going to sort of butt up against the powers of
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washington. the senate is prepared to sort of flex its muscle a little here. >> you think this, a.b. is a reshuffling entirely of how the u.s. relates to russia? >> we really don't know. i do no believe that donald trump would ever pick mitt romney because of their different world views with regard to russia, and obviously other reasons. >> you were right. >> but i think that -- i think this is still in question. this is a very awkward corner for republicans to be in. you saw them squirming over the weekend. senator mitch mcconnell, majority leader comes around, says, yes, they're not our friends. they don't wish us well. these kinds of allegations into cyber attacks need to be investigated, but they are not comfortable with donald trump's stance on russia and never have been all fall. embracing him because he's their president, but how much they push back on russia is going to be key, and matt's right. the sanctions question is the crux of this. will rex tillerson have an answer on sanctions they can defend? will he say something they can
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actually describe to their constituents as in the best interests of the u.s.? and not a pro-russia position? that's for, a president-elect trump and rex tillerson to figure out in the next couple weeks. >> i think republicans not in cycle will have more freedom to oppose him. republicans who want jobs in the trump administration -- >> re-elected, they're feeling more free to say, i'm concerned about this. >> right. and you know, also, the issue of russian hacking and interference only getting bigger. trump dropping this nominee into the middle of that issue is like putting it on steroids and what he's done, taken the biggest political issue in the country and be mixed it with his secretary of state nominee in way that can't be undie. sta urnlgts seems to welcome the drama and stagecraft. we know one of the reasons he considered mitt romney is because he looked the part. what was reported. how does this fit into that sort of casting almost that we see going on with his cabinet? >> part of it was, you have the
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sense that he and rex tillerson sort of hit it off, in a, you know, a handful of meetings and all of a sudden the guy is the nominee. you know? sort of shows you how trump acts in sort of a gut instinct, which we know from his business experience, he would sort of hire people on the spot. you know? and i think that that's sort of how the tillerson thing sort of came about. the other interesting point i think is that trump is going to be up against some of his rivals over the past year. lindsey graham, gave out the cell phone number of, you know, a year ago. >> yeah. >> marco rubio, little marco for so long. john mccain was not a war hero. these are the people who now are in positions to really stymie trump's administration from the very beginning. >> just to bring it full circle. he'll have support from rice and gates after running for a year against the bush administration's foreign policy. rice and gates. two of the chief architects of iraq. said he's going to drain the swamp. turns out the swamp is a little
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more complicated than he thought. >> we have to talk about rick perry for energy secretary. was secretary of irony, was that -- someone else got that? this is so wild to me! >> well, it makes sense that rick perry as phil outlined, long storied governor of text, obviously a good manager and knows the most, among the most in the country, about oil and gas and energy issues that are the priority of donald trump, not the priority of a democratic administration. obviously. he is not an expert on nuclear weapons, obviously, but he called donald trump a cancer on conservatism. one of the biggest things here, this is another pick donald trump can point to and say i make friends with my former adversaries and i'm a big guy and i overlook the past. >> but is rick perry, being someone who wanted to get rid of the energy department -- >> i think he wants the job right now. i think it fits the pen, an sba administrator, we've got an epa director who doesn't believe in climate change.
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a labor secretary doesn't believe in minimum wage increases. he's appointing a bunch of people who are going to make fundamental changes to these agencies and those changes will largely involve reducing their size and importance. >> before you go, a piece today on how the trump team is trying to get rid of the number two at nato? >> right. rose gottenmiller, nominated by obama works for nato, sitting there. republicans don't like her. >> why? >> they allege she lied to congress and withheld information about russia treaty violations from the north atlantic council and its political body. although she's two sooft on russia, according to republican, trump might actually agree with, for them it's personal. what the trump team has done, deployed an envoy to tell nato they want her rear placed. nato has to decide to go along with it. even if they don't they won't deal with her. seeing a big battle and a challenge coming from the trump administration with nato that will start right after he gets inaugurated. >> we'll see what the implications are there.
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thank you all so much. and up next, donald trump's new vow. he is promising no new deals during his term, personal deals. he says he will hand over control of the business to his two sons. what about his daughter, though, who is so prominent in this campaign? no mention of her. we'll take a closer look at that. ♪ everything your family touches sticks with them. make sure the germs they bring home don't stick around. use clorox disinfecting products. because no one kills germs better than clorox.
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when you cook with incredible wild-caingredients...almon. you make incredible meals. fresh ingredients. step-by-step-reciepes. delivered to your door, for less than $9 a meal. get $30 off your first delivery blueapron.com/cook. as we approach five weeksing in donald trump becomes president one. great unknowns is how he will separate himself from his business empire once he takes office. we mentioned how he's postponing the news conference, planning for this thursday that was supposed to outline his plans on that front. trump says he'll hold one in the near future to discuss his business, cabinet picks and
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other topics of interest. as cnn's cristina alesci explains, trump's vast commercial ties are uncharted territory for an incoming president. >> i'm not going to be doing deals at all. that would be, i don't even know if that's a conflict. i mean, i have the right to do it. you know under the law i have a right to do it, i just don't want to do it. i don't want to do deals. >> reporter: how do you describe the complications of having the physical billionaire president? in a word, unprecedented. unprecedented business empire owned by the commander in chief. an unprecedented opportunity for corruption at the highest level, and a leader with an unprecedented disdain for following political norms. >> every republican nominee since richard nixon, at one time under an audit released their tax return. >> reporter: traditions, not the law, guided presidents ho to deal with finances in the past. >> the law clearly does not
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apply to the president and vice president and legally the president of the united states doesn't have to do anything. >> reporter: back in 1983, president reagan asked the office of government ethics a question. >> win just one for the gipper. >> reporter: could the first movie star president still take part in the entertainment industry? the answer -- legally, conflicts of interest laws don't apply to the president. but, "as a matter of policy, he should conduct himself as if they did." that principle has led to former presidents selling off their assets, wanting to avoid questions about their motives. >> so here's the -- >> reporter: now, more than 30 years later, the president of the united states will own hotels, golf courses, and his name will appear in credits for the celebrity apprentice. some tried to downplay his role on the show, but his spokesperson defended him days earlier. >> i mean, presidents have a right to do things in their spare time. >> reporter: trump is set to
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announce he will leave his business. >> my executives will run it with my children. it's a big company. it's a great company. >> reporter: still, sources say there's no indication that the businessman in chief will fully shed his assets. in fact, a bipartisan coalition of ethics experts said that "the plan will create the appearance that president-elect trump and his family are using the presidency to enrich themselves." the group is calling for trump to sell lis business and put the money in a blind trust controlled by a non-family member. >> i have ivanka and eric and don sitting there, run the company, kids. have a good time. >> reporter: a good time is exactly what trump critics fear. and that's why trump's announcement will likely lead to more questions than answers. cristina alesci, cnn "money" new york. >> let's dig into this issue of donald trump's business dealings with someone who did pretty groundbreaking reporting on him throughout the campaign.
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david they're. hold -- david they arerenhold of th "washington post." want about postponing the explanation how donald trump will extricate himself from his business imp peeempire. what his adviser to anderson cooper last night. >> a very unconventional situation. normally politicians moving from political job to political job. in this case a very successful businessman who's brilliant a billionaire, assets and holdings all over the globe and that needs to have a transfer of power through the proper channels. >> what do you make of this delay of pushing this off until very possibly close to his inauguration? >> well, it either means the trump team hasn't figured out how do it and have and know people won't like it and want to delay it after the electoring
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vote on the 19ble. >> you would have expected prior to being elected this would have been in the works. then you hear from people saying there were many people even close to donald trump who didn't expect for him to win and questioned whether due diligence was done on prepping something like this? >> i think it's true that many people close to trump including perhaps trump himself does not believe they would win up until polls closed november 8th. now certainly this is something not just about these imaginary political norms. not just about propriety. it's an trump's own protection. we're talking about somebody who is going to, if he doesn't sell off his properties, ends up trying to be involved in this business as president, that question of conflicts of interest will dog him every day and on every decision. that's why presidents do it. not because of the country or good behavior, for themselves, too. >> and you outlined the problems with the trump foundation diligently. you followed the money.
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donations that were alleged to have been made by the trump foundation and then you found out actually this charity had no record of their being a donation, later the trump foundation admitted that they had done self-dealing. they had violated irs regulations, violated the law. do you expect that things like this are going to continue to play out in the presidency? people are going to be looking at this and there's going to be a drip, drip, drip? >> of course. i think they'll be questions about foreign policy decisions, when talking about countries in which trump has a project or a project he wants to be built, turkey, taiwan, china. and we're also talking about questions over emoluments. about on secure sounding thing but one of the few limitations on the president's behavior written into the constitution. presidents cannot take payments from foreign states. if trump owns businesses, owns them directly and they get money from foreign governments, trump could be in violation of the
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constitution from day one and that will continue to dog him and the republicans. >> seems like even the things you uncovered, there weren't a lot of repercussions. what are your expectations for the future, and if these thing doss continue to dog donald trump, if there aren't necessarily legal repercussions, are there any repercussions? >> of course. we don't know what the house and senate will do. they're the ones who would have to enforce this emoluments clause. they don't get to decide whether it's a big issue or not. the public gets to decide. if team watch trump's debe hbeh and what he's doing, putting his businesses ahead of the country, there's consequences for this. because mitch mcconnell and paul ryan don't care, that's not true at all. >> interesting. thank you so much, we appreciate your time. see you again soon. and up next, president obama sends a special warning to his
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successor when it comes to intelligence briefings. hear the president's message to donald trump.
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president-elect donald trump is promising a news conference in the near future. last night he tweeted he'll discuss his business, cabinet picks all other topics of interest. back with me, editor and columnist to reclear politics and national reporter for "the boston globe "and a columnist for the "washington post." i want to read a couple of tweets, actually, that donald trump put out there today. he says, even though i am not
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mandateed by law to do so, i will be leaving my businesses before january 20th so that i can focus full-time on the presidency. two of my children, don and eric, plus executives, will manage them.deals done during me in office. no mention of ivanka. right, matt? >> an interesting point. where the past he has mentioned her, you know, along with his sons. perhaps an indication along with rumors of her and her husband. lo -- jared kushner to move here to washington, indicating an advisory role or her husband will and he's trying to pass along the business conflict questions only to his sons. >> hurdles to having them officially involved, a.b. you pointed out during the commercial break, it's hard to enforce and obviously there's
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informal advisors all the time? >> ivanka's daughter and one of the people he's closest to, adviser for everything, they are the last word. talk to anyone around them. jared kushner and ivanka are the last word on every decision and doesn't really make a move without them. particularly his son-in-law. so they will be there all the time, and consulting with him throughout the day, and whether or not it become as formal role or not, why they're moving down. >> how is that different than things in the past where other sons, daughters, wives of presidents have advised them? i think of hillary clinton having very formal roles in bill clinton's white house. >> i've never seen a daughter of a president meeting with a japanese prime minister before any actual diplomats met with him. okay? this is above and beyond. jared kushner well reported taking meeting with a range of foreign officials. heavily involved in the
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development of foreign policy even now. before the trump team had a secretary of state. >> you see his role as special adviser in a way? right? a very coveted position? is that how you would -- how would you describe him? >> performing that role right now. exactly. taking meetings representing the president in issues domestic and foreign. that's going on. how they work out the legalities is a different question. another question, how do ivanka and jared deal with their own business? extensive holdings. the president-elect is exempt, technically, not ethically, legally. they are not. a whole other set of conflicts of interests. >> we've learned donald trump is only getting about -- presidential daily briefing. intelligence briefing, nearly a daily thing, getting about one a week. the current president, president obama, had something to say about this, because donald trump had responded, i'm smart.
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i don't need to hear the same thing every day. let me know if something changes. here's what president obama said. >> it doesn't matter how smart you are. you have to have the best information possible to make the best decisions possible. and my experience with our intelligence agencies is that they are not perfect. they'd be the first to acknowledge that, but they are full of extraordinarily hard-working, patriotic and knowledgeable experts, and if you are not getting their perspective, their detailed perspective, then you are flying blind. >> he seems concerned that his replacement is not informing himself enough? >> because donald trump admitted in an interview on sunday that he's like a smart guy and he doesn't need to hear the same thing every day for eight years.
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now, even if it is the same thing, that's part of your brief, apparently you know, there's a lot -- barack obama is not the favorite president either of the intelligence community, but they're all we have and a lot of criticism about the intelligence community what they did with wmd in iraq and false pretenses going into the iraq war. they're taking a lot of flak, but they are risking their lives around the world to provide us with information from which we mitigate threats against us. donald trump passed us off to pence, saying he's not intere interested and now we know he's meeting with kanye. once actually president, things continue to remain dangerous, a crist simple he' criticism he'll take if not in kno those meetings. >> and the russian situation, politicized, no the getting real honest information. i don't think it's right but
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it's what he believes and what the national security adviser mike flynn believes. optimistic, after trump installs the top people at the top of these agencies he'll have more confidence in the product. >> there aren't that. more to install. a lot of lifetime people, important to point out. >> he'll feel better when his people are in charge of the agencies and maybe start to listen more and believe them more. that's the optimistic view. pessimistic view, continue to get information from conspiracy websites. >> josh, matt, a.b., thank you to all three of you. still to come, reports of a cease-fire in aleppo, this as we get dirs tushing new reports from within the besieged city. one u.n. official describing the scene as a complete meltdown of humanity. the latest from the ground there, next. . i should take a closer look at geico... geico has a long history of great savings and great service. over seventy-five years. wait. seventy-five years? that is great. speaking of great, check out these hot riffs.
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we have breaking news from the war torn syrian city of aleppo. sources telling cnn a cease-fire and evacuation agreement has just been reached. told residents are receiving cell phone text messages from rebel leaders. this news comes amid grim reports of what's happening there in the past 24 hours as regime forces continue to sweep through rebel-held areas. cnn cannot independently confirm it, but the u.n. says it received reports troops loyal to the government, to the assad regime shot and killed 82 people monday, including women and children. it says, syrian troops or their allies entering homes in rebel-held parts of alep 0 and just shooting people on the spot. no way of knowing what's become of this little girl, who's been begging the world to stop the carnage. she sent out this tweet early this morning. she said, my name is bona. i'm 7 years old. i'm talking to the world now live from east aleppo. this is my last moment to either
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live or die. and there have been other heart wrenching messages from those still left in her city. >> translator: at least we know that -- we are a free people. we want freedom. we didn't want anything else. but freedom. >> all of this as the u.n. security council holds another meeting on syria this very hour. cnn fred pleitgen is watching this from beirut and, fred, what else do we know about this cease-fire? >> reporter: well, we know this agreement was hammered out in the past couple of hours, and apparently according to the terms of this agreement what's going to happen, within that small rebel enclave still left over there in eastern aleppo, which had been getting pounded over the past days, both the fighters and civilians in that area will be evacuated.
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they're either going to go to the north of aleppo, into the northern countryside, or to the west of aleppo, the countryside there. all will be evacuated, as you mentioned, apparently text messages and phone calls sent around to people telling them about this agreement reached. all of this usually happens with buses in that area. we're also hearing the syria arab red crescent will monitor the following through of this agreement. of course, all of this said to the set in motion in the next couple of hours, all of this will probably save a lot of lives on the ground there. especially when you consider the amount of fire power that was raining down on that rebel enclave, but on the flip side of things, if nothing derails this agreement, brianna, it will essentially mean that aleppo will have fallen, because on the flip side of it, syrian government forces are going to move in to those areas that will be evacuated. the syrian government forces, pro-government forces will have full control of aleppo, there
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will not be a rebel presence in aleppo anymore. brianna? >> fred, these reports the u.n. is getting of dozens of syrians including women and children, basically atrocities of these people just being mowed down in their own homes, is the government responding to these reports? >> reporter: you know what? they haven't responded at all to these reports yet, and the u.n. was the one who flagged this up earlier today, and they say they've been getting these reports, that as many as 82 civilians had been killed by pro-government force, at they were sweeping through the districts that they captured from the opposition. they say they got this information from people who had been credible in the past but at the same time had no way of absolutely verifying whether this information was true and said they hoped that it wasn't true. right now with the chaotic situation there on the ground, with many civilians still fleeing that area, it's very difficult to really confirm whether or not all of it is true, but it certainly is a
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troubling situation on the ground there. it's something that concerns not just the united statnations but u.s. as well. keep in mind, there's a lot of different factions fighting on the side of the syrian government including hezbollah, including iranians, iraqi shia militias. >> thank you, fred pleitgen. still to come, it's no secret the president-elect the relationship with the media has turbulent from jeers to threats. up next, a firsthand account of what it's like to cover donald trump. your insurance company won't replace the full value of your totaled new car. the guy says you picked the wrong insurance plan. no, i picked the wrong insurance company.
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the president-elect is shaping his cabinet with a pick for secretary of state a nomination likely leading to a bit of a battle on capitol hill. donald trump is no stranger to showdowns. especially when it comes to the media, he's labeled dishonest, disgusting, even calling out reporters by name. and things got even nastier behind the scenes towards the early part of his campaign. cnn political analyst and editor-in-chief of the "daily beast" john avalon joining me now. you know it better than anyone. wrote a piece about it from the first ever cnn blicks "unprecedented: the election that changed everything." tell us about this moment, john when one of your reporters towards the early part of the
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campaign was dealing with a close associate of donald trump's. >> it was a very revealing moment, brianna. reporter tim mack doing a story, sensitive nature, having to do with his divorce and allegations around that divorce from his first wife. and a reporter called up the special counsel of the trump organization michael cohen, i know you're familiar with. and asked him questions, which made mr. cohen uncomfortable. and in response, his reaction instinctively apparently, threaten the reporter. was to threaten to bankrupt him. was to threaten to sort of destroy his reputation, go after his personally, financially, and it was revealing in two respects. first of all, this was apparently considered best operating procedure. tone comes from the top of organizations. and this was apparently a way to deal with the free press. second of all, we published the threat. something they were not used to. but it does speak to the
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fascinating sort of twisted relationship donald trump has with the press. he craves media attention unlike other politician. a creature of immediate attention but at the same time deeply resists any attempt to hold him accountable and will target individuals or news organizations by name, and sets the stage for a contentious environment between the president and the press in which we need to do our duty to hold the president and people in power to account. >> do you think that kind of thing, which you describe, and that was from some of the earlier days of the campaign, do you think that kind of thing is something you saw later in the campaign, or that you're seeing now? or that we are going to see into this presidency? >> well, i think there was a -- the infamous blacklist of news organizations which we were proudly part of and wore as a badge of honor, shared with the "washington post" and "national review." that was rescinded and there has been an attempt at a degree of greater transparency, but the word needs to be degree. the normal protocols that are in
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place to keep the press aware of a president-elect's actions, the norm's transparencies, part of the constitutional broader balance of power, have been frequently discarded. there's not been a presidential press conference, as is traditional for a president-elect. that is notable. and i think that's a, a troubles, that's a troubling sign. look, we've got to remember, and folks at home need to appreciate, that the constitution doesn't mention political parties, but it does mention journalists, freedom of the press. and this is an essential check on our power structures in a democracy, and if that gets eroded even slowly, if concepts of truth themselves get degraded from the top, that's a dangerous structure that we exist to push back on as part of the overall arc of self-governance in a democracy, and it's an essential part of it. >> thank you so much. clarifying sort of one of the issues that we're going to see here in our role as the media moving forward. appreciate that. and a reminder that cnn's
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book, "unprecedented: the election that changed everything" is on sale now. you can order it at cnn.com/book. still to come, a case that captivated the nation now nearly 20 years after the mysterious death of 6-year-old jonbenet ramsey, who did it? it's still a mystery. up next, cnn talks to her father as he relives the tragedy.
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one of the greatest unsolved murders in history. murder of jonbenet ramsey. tonight a cnn report of the secrets and bombschembombshells case. almost 20 years since the 6-year-old was found strangled in the basement of her home. who did it remain as mystery. jean casarez sat down with those closest to the investigation, including jonbenet's father. >> reporter: it was noon, six hours had passed since patsy ramsey had called 911. their hill girl jonbenet was still missing. police combed the house trying to figure out how an intruder could have gotten in. one possibility -- an open window in the basement. but that was dismissed quickly. >> the window well had cobwebs on it. you can't go through cobwebs
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without disturbing them. >> reporter: officers examined the ransom note and tapped the phone. >> the kidnapping note said i'll tall you between 8:00 and 10:00. >> reporter: as the deadline came and went, john ramsey was pacing so police asked him to search the house for clues. >> one of the detectives asked me and my friend who was there to go through every inch of the house. started in the basement. we have one room in the basement that there are no windows in that room. when i opened the door and when i turned the light on, i -- i hoped that she was still okay, but i could tell that she probably wasn't. >> reporter: jonbenet's body was covered in a blanket. >> did you take duct tape off her mouth? >> uh-huh. i took the duct tape off immediately and tried to untie
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her hands, but the knot was too too tie. i couldn't get it loose. i couldn't do anything but scream. >> and john ramsey carried his daughter rigid from rigor mortis up the store stairs and set her on the floor. >> jean casarez joining me now, and i mean, this is just a riveting look back at this crime that i think still has so many people puzzled, and we know that people have grown up hearing this name. they maybe aren't familiar wit basic facts of the story. what happened? >> reporter: well, it's just as you saw. a little girl. she was in kindergarten. it was a family from atlanta that moved to boulder because of john ramsey the business that grossed $1 billion that year, it was in the local newspaper. it was big news and had a wonderful christmas day, and christmas evening, and john ramsey does not like to talk about this, bu we went to him. he lives in a very remote community, very private now.
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agreed to sit down one on one and he takes me through how that the last time he saw her was when he put her to bed christmas night and the next morning a scream from patsy and it was that ransom note. as you know, it went on and all forces were looking at the parents. they became the prime suspects. very controversial that they wouldn't sit down for a formal interview with police when their daughter was murdered until months afterwards. john ramsey has another reason he believes that games were being played and he was told, look, they want to convict you. they want to convict you. get a defense attorney. the best you can find. and he and pats had to do that. he relives it, talks about finding her body. things we had never heard before of what he found when he opened that cellar door, as he called it, in the basement. >> a reminder, i want to tell people this is a special airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. right here on cnn. we'll learn a lot more. we'll learn about some of the
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outstanding facts in the case, and jean will be taking you through that. it's a great report. jean, thank you so much. and thank you for watching "newsroom." "wolf" starts right now. hello. i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. in washington. from you're you're watching in the world, welcome. and president-elect donald trump settled on rex tillerson, selection for secretary of state. he has no government foreign policy experience but has done lots of business with countries and leaders around the world and has a very good relationship with the russian president vladimir putin. the russian foreign minister sergey lavrov says his country welcomes

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